All photos are by Cleve Nash
Excitement, yes, but not because we have little fuzzy white birds, but a plump fuzzy black bear! In all the years that I’ve spent at Morro Rock, this was a first for me. I know that this whole area had been a home for grizzlies and black bear alike. The little community of Los Osos, located at the southern end of the sand spit is called the “Valley of the Bears.” The sand spit is a long narrow strip of sand dunes which protects a large estuary on one side and from the Pacific Ocean on the other.
At 6:30 AM calls came into the local police station about an adult black bear roaming the north side parking lot near the foot of Morro Rock. Well, this got the wheels rolling. Cleve Nash and I were at the rock early, for me anyway. Cleve had been there for sometime before me. He had already taken a few photos of the bear on the rocks at the base of Morro Rock, about 70 yards away, which is no problem for a 600mm lens. He is usually shooting the falcons at 175 yards plus.
Within minutes, word got out, and here they came, five Fish & Game trucks, every Fire Engine and Paramedic unit in the city, Police, Parks Department, Harbor Patrol. If you didn’t see the bear, you would have thought they had Jack, the Ripper, surrounded. They brought in a trailer of barricades and closed off this huge parking lot and moved all of us back to the far side of the entrance road. By 7:45 AM, there are 150 people outside the barricades watching and 75 inside, now that the Mayor, City Councilmen and Dignitaries have arrived.
Of course, I’m right in the thick of it with two spotting scopes set up, one on the bear and one on the falcon near the nest. Everyone is asking me questions like “Am I the ‘Bear Guru?’”
“I just do birds.”
The question most asked was “How did he get here.” My answer was, “He could have come down the creek from the mountains behind Morro Bay or he could have come from Los Osos across the sand spit and swum the 100 yards of water separating Morro Rock from the sand spit.”
Nobody seemed to like the latter, so the consensus was, “Yeah, he must have come down the creek last night.”
It’s 8:10 AM and over 200 people are watching a couple of Fish & Game Personnel with assault rifles, “at the ready,” creeping closer to the bear. Some one in the crowd said, “I think they are going to tranquilize him.”
My reply was “Have you ever seen a tranquilizer gun with a 15 shot magazine?”
It’s 8:45 AM and the NEWS trucks are here and it seems to be turning into a “dog and pony show.” They have managed to run the bear into the thickest patch of poison oak behind a chain-link fence.
Anyway, to make a long story short, they got him sedated and into a truck and on his way to California Valley, his new home.
Happy trails, Bob
Item: Later that day.
Park Rangers patrolling the sand spit found fresh bear tracks and diggings at water’s edge.